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TalkTalk focuses on YouView, fibre, network growth and phones to turn its fortunes around

TalkTalk is pinning its hopes on YouView, fibre broadband, growing its network and selling mobile phones to find new customers after its best results in 18 months.

TalkTalk CEO Dido HardingThe company unbundled 501 exchanges during the last 12 months to reach a total of 2,508, and plans to unbundle another 200 exchanges by the end of March 2013.

Broadband customer losses have stemmed from 43,000 in late 2011 to 13,000 in the first quarter of 2012, leaving a total of 4.066 million broadband users.

Dido Harding, TalkTalk’s chief executive, said: “Our focus on improving customer service has driven a real improvement in customer numbers and we are on track to deliver total customer growth in the current quarter.

“Our strategy has delivered a materially more profitable and stable customer base and a leaner, more efficient cost structure, giving us a strong platform from which to invest in growth opportunities such as YouView.

“We will achieve our growth and margin targets through continued expansion of our network, further operating efficiencies, adding more services to become a genuine quad play provider, growing scale in our business-to-business operations and increasing our sales of superfast broadband.”

Announcing its results for the year ending on March 31, TalkTalk said it now has the UK’s largest unbundled network, reaching 91 per cent of its customers.

TalkTalk now has 3.76m broadband users on fully unbundled connections with line rental, compared to 3.6m a year ago.

Harding promised to increase the bandwidth of TalkTalk’s network by a hundred times over the next five years, with a focus on more efficient backhaul across its exchanges, optimised for video, security and access to cloud services.

Fibre broadband focus

Fibre broadband customers almost doubled from 4,000 in late 2011 to 9,000 at the end of March, and TalkTalk has started installing 80Mbps fibre since it launched in April.

Harding added: “We are continuing to work with BT Openreach to develop the Next Generation Access product further, and in particular to improve the customer connection experience and reduce both the initial set-up and ongoing provisioning costs. 

“Currently all new fibre connections necessitate a visit by an BT Openreach engineer and supply of separate new access and inter-connection equipment within the home.

“Trials on a simpler installation process are underway and we continue to believe that the experience must become more flexible, and its end-to-end costs reduced, before NGA products will gain mass-market customer acceptance.”

TalkTalk’s also had success selling customers up to its Plus unlimited broadband and phone package, which now has a million subscribers.

It also has 70,000 SIM-only mobile phone subscribers, and is planning to launch mobile handsets later this year.

The main losses were in its off-network subscribers, who face higher prices and lower speeds with less benefits, and are still leaving faster than TalkTalk can expand its unbundled network. 

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